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U of T education workers accuse employer of bargaining in bad faith

The union representing teaching assistants, sessional lecturers and postdoctoral fellows at the University of Toronto (U of T), has filed an unfair Labour Practice Complaint at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Local 3902 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 3902) alleges the university bargained in bad faith in March 2015, during negotiations for the most recent collective agreement between the parties.

In March 2015, after a 28-day legal strike, the two parties went into binding arbitration. Agreement had been reached on all but two items, one of which was the new bursary fund. The majority of union members are graduate students, a large portion of whom receive funding from the university, so the Bursary Fund addressed the key bargaining priority of increasing the minimum level of funding from $15,000 to $17,500 by providing a ‘top up’ grant to eligible members.

When the employer provided the data required to implement distribution of the funds in September, the union discovered the data provided was older than originally purported and included other sources of income for bursary recipients never agreed to by the union. As a result, some recipients were deemed ineligible for ‘top ups’ of up to $2,500 or were deemed eligible to receive less than they otherwise might have. The amount of money provided by the employer for the fund is insufficient to meet the goals of the fund.

“They lied about our members’ funding levels … (and) bargained in bad faith at a tense time when honesty mattered more than ever,” said Ryan Culpepper, Chair of CUPE 3902.

Culpepper, who also served on the bargaining team in 2015, added that U of T’s behaviour “calls the entirety of collective bargaining, the end of the strike, and the whole collective agreement into question.”

Isabel Stowell-Kaplan, Unit Chair for CUPE 3902-1, the unit that was on strike, said, “It cannot be overstated how important this data was to our position in bargaining. Not only is the fund now insufficient for its intended purpose, we can’t disburse the money we do have because the data is junk.”

A copy of the union’s complaint can be viewed by visiting the CUPE 3902 website.

For more information, please contact:

Ryan Culpepper
Chair CUPE 3902

Kevin Wilson
CUPE Communications